I mentioned a few posts ago that I might contact a couple of people who I know who may be interested in meeting me en route to Puglia in the summer. One of those people was Claus, my friend in Stuttgart. I trained as a teacher with Claus in the UK nearly ten years ago but we’ve stayed in contact ever since and I’ve been over to Stuttgart a couple of times to pay him a visit. That’s him on the left. Despite being a languages teacher like me, he is also a talented muscian and you can listen to some of his music by clicking here. He often brings students over to the UK, to London and Brighton so I’ve also spent a few days with him and a bunch of German teenagers around the streets of London. He got married last summer and it’s a pity I wasn’t able to go back over for that. Anyway, I emailed him yesterday about my plans and he is up for meeting in Strasburg which is only about 100 kilometres from his home town. I’ve never been to Strasbourg and I want to make it one of my days off, perhaps even splashing out on a hotel for a couple of nights. Anyway, he comments that my “….plan to cycle all the way down to Italy sounds intriguing. Wish I could do something like that, but my wife doesn’t accept any accommodation with less than 4 stars:-)”. I’ll hopefully see him in May when he brings his students to London again.
Jim (see yesterday’s post) has also got back to me and he writes….
“Hope the training is coming on well and you are getting in some miles. Are you planning on camping and taking your kit? The last major tour I did was with 2 big panniers and a bar bag. Camping sux in bad weather but gives you a lot of scope to push the distance a bit as you are not as tied to stops. Keep it light. My biggest day ever with full kit was 125 miles and it hurt. 70 miles is a lot more comfortable and sustainable and should give you time to recover, eat and have the odd beer (most important for morale). The info on all the Eurovelo routes is sketchy at best on the web sites. Are the maps any better or are they hoping you make it up as you go along? Is it signed? Is the terrain mainly tarmac? If you ever get up to Cumbria, give us a bell. Some hilly rides might prepare you for the Alps.”
Thanks for that Jim – lots of questions! Here are the answers:
Camping & kit: yes and yes (but thanks for the advice). I’ve done a fair bit of camping in my time so I know what to expect. In addition, I just think it is a no brainer compared to being stuck in a hotel if the weather is half decent which it probably will be as I head south in July and August. Interspersed with the occasional night in a hotel it’s the best option.
Distances: I need to get 80 miles under my belt every day although that is an average and obviously there will be places where that distance will be tough, for example on the way up the Alps (but not on the way back down!).
Eurovelo, maps, signs & terrain: Yes, I have increasingly come to the conclusion that the Eurovelo routes are more aspirational that real and the chances of them being signed for more than just short parts of the trip is, I think, quite low. That said, following cycle routes too slavishly can hold you back and I quite like the flexibility of making up my own route while following the basic Eurovelo 5 route. As for the terrain, it will be mainly tarmac or well kept tracks. I hope!
Not sure whether I will be able to take him up on his offer of hospitality if I chose to use the Cumbrian Fells for Alpine training. I may have to do that on the relatively flat Chilterns and hope for the best when I get to Switzerland!